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Logan's City of Choice program urged to forge a new path

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The future of one of south-east Queensland’s most high-profile programs to tackle unemployment and youth disadvantage is up in the air after the local council responsible opted to conduct a review of its resourcing and governance.

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Logan City Council is set to vote on whether its much-lauded City of Choice program should be redefined or scrapped altogether, eight years after it was created following a spate of racially charged riots centred on suburban Woodridge.

The incidents sparked a summit between community groups and all levels of government to try to resolve the social problems besetting parts of Logan at the time.

Since then, the City of Choice program has driven new initiatives to tackle early education, unemployment and the supply of housing in the satellite city where one in four residents were born overseas.

Its approach of bringing together government, community and business representatives to collaborate on tackling social issues has borne fruit, with successes including the Logan Together collective impact initiative, additional funding for community safety programs and new safety cameras, and bringing the Queensland Music Festival to Logan.

It has also been used as a model for “place-based” solutions to social and economic problems and has enjoyed several years of healthy funding from both the federal and Queensland governments.

However, a review of the program by consultants KPMG has prompted questions over its direction and function. It currently has no leadership team and the council is preparing to channel its $100,000 budget back into general revenue to possibly invest in other programs.

The council’s planning, economic development and environment committee is due to decide this week on one of two options for the program – suspend it or have a steering committee headed by Mayor Darren Power look into whether it could be re-focussed and refreshed.

Council officers have urged that the committee keep the program going with a new focus on “jobs and job pathways”.

The council’s director of innovation and city transformation, Scott Bourke, said this would allow council to “undertake a more coordinated and strategic approach to developing a long term, sustainable response to addressing some of Logan’s complex challenges”.

“The Queensland and Australian Governments have embraced place-based approaches offered by City of Choice over a number years,” he said in a report to council.

“Both levels of government have also invested resources and funding in Logan, via City of Choice; along with testing government system reforms and finding new ways of doing business.”

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